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Complexities of Love Exposed in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club

The Complexities of Love Exposed in The Joy Luck Club

In the novel “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan, the ignorance, the disregard of, and the necessity of love are all reveled as the characters tell their life stories and memories. The characters in the novel take love for granted. By ignoring love, concentrating more on material possessions, and hiding their true identities, the characters don’t realize love’s importance.

One character that takes love for granted is Harold, Lena St. Clair’s husband. This occurs when Lena leans over to him in their car and states “I love you.” He responds by asking Lena a question about his car, which seems to be more important to him than his relationship with her. Harold does not realize the importance of love. He only thinks about material possessions. Since Harold does not revealing his true nature, he reveals that he has a lack of love for himself as an individual. The love you have for yourself is a necessity in life because it provides self-respect; if one respects oneself, one will respect and love others.

The story of Lindo Jong provides insight into the concept of revealing your true nature. To “keep everything inside” as does Lindo Jong, provides for not being able to experience love to its fullest. Lindo Jong hides “under a red marriage scarf” in attempt to shield herself from the outside world. Her “hiding under the scarf” demonstrates that to be able to love, you must be able to first reveal your true nature. Ying-Ying St. Clair stands as an example of the desire to remain hidden as she says, “All these years I kept my true nature hidden, running along like a small shadow so nobody could catch me.” The image of the shadow relates directly to the red marriage scarf. They both attempt to provide the concealment of their true natures, because the result of revealing your true self may be that of “pain”.

The importance of love goes unnoticed as the characters take love for granted and expect it to naturally come to them. The ceasing of taking love for granted does occur later and has its results and consequences. The characters realize that they are taking love for granted when they feel meaningless and uncomfortable, and stop doing so by either ending the relationship or confronting the problem.

A Comparison of The Yellow Wallpaper and The Darling

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and Anton Chekhov’s, “The Darling”, we are introduced to main characters with lives surrounded by control. In Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the main character, which remains nameless, is controlled by her husband, John. He tells her what she is and is not allowed to do, where she is to live, and that is she is not permitted to see her own child. In Chekhov’s, “The Darling”, the main character, Olenka, allows her own opinions and thoughts to be those of her loved ones. When John puts the narrator into the room, she writes in despite of him telling her that she should not. At the end of her first passage, the narrator tells us, “There comes John, and I must put this away – he hates to have me write a word”.

The narrator was told that writing and any other intellectual activity would exhaust her. The only thing that exhausts her about it is hiding it from them. The narrator tells us, “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal – having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition”. Conrad Shumaker suggests that John believes that if someone uses too much imagination then they will not be able to figure out reality. “He fears that because of her imaginative ‘temperament’ she will create the fiction that she is mad and come to accept it despite the evidence – color, weight, appetite – that she is well. Imagination and art are subversive because they threaten to undermine his materialistic universe” In Gilman’s “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper”, Gilman tells us that when she was sent home from the rest cure, Dr. Mitchell gave her “solemn advice to ‘live as domestic a life as far as possible,’ to ‘have but two hours intellectual…

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…lf. Her thoughts were always for someone beside herself. When Olenka was alone “she had no opinions of any sort. She saw the objects about her and understood what she saw, but could not form any opinion about them, and did not know what to talk about.” Olenka had nothing to make conversation and if she would make conversation, she could not give her opinion. In conclusion, both women had a strong control factor in their life. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the main character makes no decisions of her own. Her husband, John, controls everything she does. In “The Darling”, the men surrounding her life control all of Olenka’s opinions. The men do not mean for it to be this way but that is just how Olenka is. She allows herself to not be able to think on her own. These characters have similar personalities. They both allow themselves to be controlled throughout their lives.

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